Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan has said there is no cheap and quick solution in Afghanistan, blaming foreign forces that have been deployed in the country for 15 years.
Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin's special envoy to Afghanistan and the Foreign Ministry's director of the Second Asian Department, spoke to Anadolu Agency in Moscow about the situation in Afghanistan, developments in the region, and Russian foreign policy.
Kabulov said that the situation in Afghanistan has aroused deep concern. "Today in Afghanistan there are not three important elements such as the economy, good governance, and strong armed forces. The absence of these three elements creates anxiety and pessimism. It is very difficult to offer a solution in these conditions. There is no cheap and quick solution in Afghanistan right now.”
Kabulov said the situation in Central Asia originating from Afghanistan could pose a threat to Russia's national security, adding that the worsening of the situation in Afghanistan would negatively affect the region.
"As countries in the region, we are in favor of Afghanistan's stability, because this is our common area and what happens there directly affects us," Kabulov said.
Kabulov stated that Russia supports the Kabul administration, but stressed that it does not mean that they are ignoring administrative failures, adding, "In today's conditions, the future of Afghanistan is quite bleak. But it does not mean it will be bad in the future because everything is bad. We will work to prevent Afghanistan from sliding into chaos. "
On Russia's support for Afghanistan, Kabulov also said, "This year we gave 10,000 Kalashnikovs to Afghan police. We have already given similar assistance. Every year we train Afghan police and soldiers. We have humanitarian aid directly and through the UN.”
Kabulov said Russian businessmen had not invested in Afghanistan due to various reasons, and are not considering investing large sums there.
‘The Taliban is a real political armed force’
Kabulov confirmed that Russia is in touch with the Taliban, saying, "We have contacts with the Taliban. We are communicating with them about the security of Russian diplomatic missions and citizens. We are also inculcating to the Taliban, through our contact channel, to end the war by a national cease-fire.”
"The Taliban are fighting in Afghanistan against the people we shot in Syria, that's why our interests overlap,” Kabulov said, explaining that Russia and the Taliban are on the same page on the fight against Daesh.
Kabulov stated that the Taliban had a political shift – though not an ideological one – after the death of Mullah Omar, who was the commander and founder of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
“The Taliban did not accept the idea of global jihad. Their number one goal is to save the country from occupation and establish an independent Afghan government. The Taliban are fighting Daesh because they do not accept Daesh’s ideology of jihad and see it as a rival in their own land,” Kabulov added.
Kabulov stressed that if the Taliban were to act in line with UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, it would have the right to exist as a political power.
“The Taliban has the right to exist as a political power in the country if it meets the UNSC's decision to recognize the Afghan Constitution, to withdraw its arms, and cut off links with international terrorist groups,” Kabulov said.
He added that Taliban says they have broken their ties with international terrorist groups.
Kabulov stated that “whether you like it or not, the Taliban is a real political armed force.”
“The question of how the Taliban is as strong today as it was 15 years ago needs to be asked of the Americans,” he added.
Daesh’s nascent threat in the region
Kabulov stated that Daesh first appeared in the region about two years ago, and that it is now trying to gain revenue by focusing on aggregate groundwork and support in Afghanistan.
“In Afghanistan, Daesh acted first by using the methods like in Syria and Iraq, but later it changed tactics and turned to structure and collecting support. Daesh started propaganda by establishing camps in Afghanistan," he claimed. It offered more money than the Taliban and attracted militias. When ideology was supported by money, it attracted young people. This is how the number of Daesh members in Afghanistan reached 2,500. They are located in various places in groups.
"The number is not much for now, but if we consider that it was not there two years ago, [it’s] a terrifying growth as an international terrorist organization,” Kabulov said.
He also said that Daesh does not fight with anyone in Afghanistan, unlike the Taliban and other groups, saying, “Daesh began looking for a source of income in Afghanistan when the money from Syria and Iraq declined. Drugs are the main source of income. That's why the war is taking place where drug laboratories are.”
He added that the Daesh threat in the region is at the starting level, and claimed Daesh is trying to recruit militias from Taliban, which if successful, would lead to bad consequences for Central Asia.
‘The US mission in Afghanistan failed’
Kabulov said that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan failed entirely, "I agree with the view that America has no Afghanistan strategy. They have a single purpose, [which is] to exist in Afghanistan in terms of military and political. Afghanistan is geopolitically located in an important place to control China through Central Asia, Iran, Russia, and Pakistan. This situation naturally disturbs us”.
He also argued that there is no independent administration in Afghanistan: “For this reason, the responsible [party] for these occurrences is the foreign countries that have been here for 15 years. Their wrong policy has caused the present picture. Even if it is late, it is possible to solve these problems. But those who make up these problems must do it. Americans declared that they spent $100 billion for Afghanistan's future. Where is it? Did not something need to appear?”
On China's presence in Afghanistan, Kabulov said, “China has a great potential in terms of the economy. Their interest in Afghanistan is largely economic and therefore can be regarded as a silent power. Afghanistan is very important for China to realize the Silk Road economic project.”
Russia and Pakistan
Kabulov stated that after a bad spell due to the Soviet Union’s long-ago occupation of Afghanistan, Russian-Pakistani relations have recently improved. "We are currently in a relationship with Pakistan. The level of political relations is quite high. Since we do not have major joint projects in the field of the economy, our commercial-economic volume is not much. Our military technical cooperation continues. We sold some military products to Pakistan. They want to buy more, but we do not work with Pakistan on credit and their economic opportunities are limited.”
He also stressed that they support the Pakistani government and are opposed to any kind of armed group, saying, "The Pakistani Taliban, the true brother of the Afghan Taliban, has only a slightly different goal. I think the Taliban poses a threat to the Pakistani democratic state. We support the Pakistani government and we are against any kind of armed group. The Pakistani Taliban also did not fight Daesh.”
Reporting by Hakan Ceyhan Aydogan ; Writing by Ilker Girit